Markers tested for At Home Cortisol Test (AM-PM): 2x cortisol (morning and evening)
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is one of the stress hormones produced in adrenal glands. It has important role in metabolism to break down carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Cortisol has a well defined 24 hour circadian pattern. The levels peak around 30 minutes after waking up and then gradually drop throughout the day.
Why measure cortisol levels?
Any change in the cortisol circadian rhythm indicates problems of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, burnout, or issues with adrenal glands. Chronically high cortisol levels result in increased appetite, fat accumulation and weight gain, loss of muscles, immune suppression, and bloating. On the other hand, cortisol deficiency results in fatigue, sluggishness, and low energy.
Checking your cortisol levels can also help identify potential problems with adrenal glands. Very high cortisol levels are indication of Cushing syndrome and very low levels can be caused by Addison’s disease.
How to check cortisol levels?
The easiest low-cost way to measure cortisol levels is from the convenience of your home. Simply order a cortisol saliva test kit, collect the sample at home, ship it for free to our world class CLIA-certified labs, and find out your cortisol levels in less than a week. The test is especially useful for those fearful of needles as a saliva sample can provide reliable and accurate results without the painful experience of a cortisol blood test.
You can also order our comprehensive 4 point cortisol test kit that measures cortisol levels in morning, afternoon, evening, and night: 24 hours Diurnal Cortisol Saliva Test Kit.
For a detailed discussion on symptoms of low and high cortisol levels, comparison of saliva vs blood-based cortisol testing, reasons to get your cortisol levels tested, the conveniences of an at-home saliva cortisol test, the role of cortisol on weight gain, adrenal fatigue, muscle loss, and more, please read: All About Cortisol.
You can also read a general overview of Cortisol Test at MedLinePlus.gov and at WebMD. ZRT lab has an excellent discussion and plots to show the diurnal cortisol curves for healthy individuals and patients with chronic stress, chronic fatigue, and burnout symptoms. Finally, you can learn more about the intricate details of a saliva based cortisol testing for Cushing Syndrome from the experts at Mayo Clinic.
Learn more (1): What are Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are a pair of glands on top of each kidney. They produce five key hormones:
- Three steroid hormones: testosterone, DHEA, and aldosterone
- Two non-steroid hormones: adrenaline and noradrenaline
Adrenaline hormones have a classic 4-ring backbone structure derived from cholesterol (examples are testosterone, estrogen, progesterone).
There are two types of steroid hormones:
- Anabolic hormones: they build muscle tissue and promote fat loss; testosterone is good example
- Catabolic hormones: they act as a balance to anabolic hormones by accumulating fat and helping raise blood sugar by breaking down muscles and bones; cortisol is a good example
Learn more (2): Cortisol and Pregnancy:
The circadian rhythm of free cortisol in pregnant women starts to change around 20th week of pregnancy. Although the diurnal rhythm is maintained, the mean cortisol levels increase by 1.5-2 times with morning levels increasing several times higher than normal levels. Also, the peak levels lag behind approximately 90 minutes likely due to delayed activation of the HPA axis. This observation is supported by the fact that external stimulation of CRH does not increase ACTH and salivary cortisol levels. The levels return back to normal after 5-7 days of delivery. Original publication: Psychoneuroendocronology, Vol. 19, No. 4, 1999 (page 317).